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03 March 2011 @ 08:03 pm
doing very well in these safe, narrow waters  
It's Thursday, March 3rd, and I've been parked for three days now just around a bend from the North Shell Marina, my new home base, at a spot where the canal is narrow with lots of big trees next to me to the east. It has been windy from the east for all three days, and it will be tomorrow, too, but here I've been sheltered from it. I'm pleased I can still get about 80 percent of the available sunshine even though I'm in the canal with tall trees on both sides. And, it really is gorgeous and peaceful here.

I began getting familiar with the safe canals down here the day after the last post, on Thursday, February 17th, when I travelled through the ones nearest to here to get to the Saint Johns River itself for the first time. I crossed it and went a short distance to two more canals that I am especially interested in because they are in a completely different environment -an upland Pine forest. There are just a few places along the Saint Johns and tributaries where such a forest comes up to the water. Everywhere else the riverbanks are all the deciduous swampy forests I talked about in January.

This picture shows how different from everywhere else around here it looks in the first Pine forest canal I visited, which I will call the north River Forest canal:



I spent a few days there, and took Ghost a walk along the Ocala National Forest road that parallels the canal. The upland there is called "River Forest" on maps, so I am naming the canals north River Forest and south River Forest.

Here is how the south canal looks when you enter from the Saint Johns:



I spent several days in that canal, too, and it is extremely safe back in toward the end especially. Both of these canals are dead-end, about a half mile long. By the way, I intend when I get time to make a map with these and all the waterways down here labelled, and put a quick link to it on the right side of this journal.

The two River Forest canals are safe not just because of the narrowness and the density of the pines and palmettos, but also because they are cut into upland, so the banks themselves are a few feet above the boat deck, adding even more wind dampening, as you can see:



From the bank where I took that picture, Ghost and I walked through the beautiful open woods every day, and one afternoon we walked the 200 feet to the National Forest road and down it the short distance to the trailhead for the Saint Francis Trail:





The Saint Francis Trail connects to the extensive Florida Trail.

On Saturday morning, February 26th I finally headed back to North Shell. It was the most pleasant journey yet on my boat because there was not a breath of wind for hours, which made everything so calm and quiet, and the water surface was like glass:



Ed (my brother) came to visit just after I got back to North Shell so the whole day was nice.

On Sunday and Monday, the last two days of February, I pulled into the shed at North Shell during the daytime to get in the car to do some shopping and business in Deland. As you can see, the boat fits easily:



It was hot those days while I was in town in the car, and Ghost spent them in the attic of the boat where it was especially cool with all that shade.

I am still gradually getting to know more people at and near North Shell. On Sunday I met the owner of the marina, because I was watching him install a new dock near the boat ramp with his crane boat.

The pictures in this post as well as a few others are in this new gallery:

pictures -February 17th to March 3rd, 2011

Also, ALL of my picture galleries, clear back to 2006, are now in chronological order, so it is much easier to navigate through them now.